Remember when John Lannan in 2011 posted a respectable 3.70 ERA across 184.2 innings? Remember when, because of the Nats' rotation depth, he was available for trade rumored to be of interest to a number of teams? Remember when he posted a better spring ERA than Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez? Remember when manager Davey Johnson said he'd won the fifth-starter's job?
Well, the 27-year-old Lannan is now a minor-leaguer. In what the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore calls a "stunning decision," Lannan on Tuesday was optioned to AAA-Syracuse despite his $5-million salary for 2012. The most immediate consequence is that Ross Detwiler will serve as the team's number-five starter. Detwiler's move to the rotation, however, leaves a vacancy in the bullpen -- a bullpen that's already without closer Drew Storen.
Perhaps the Nats believe that the league is going to catch up to Lannan's underwhelming stuff, but this remains a curious decision, particularly in light of Chien-Ming Wang's injury. Needless to say, this will do little to improve Lannan's value on the trade market.
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